Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 12, 2013

The Vibrant Colors of Hope

Siem Reap, Cambodia

With the early December date of the dedication of The Hope Center looming closer, everyone working to complete the project is in hyper-work mode. Yesterday afternoon, we all pitched in around the center. Jet-lag notwithstanding, the girls painted while I helped to move bricks for the perimeter fence. Along with the frenzy of activity in and around the building, however, there is a palpable excitement as different phases of the work near completion.

Planning Girls
A major part of our task is to select paint colors and plan and purchase furnishings for the rooms. This is no small task as we try to think more like Cambodians than like the Westerners that we are. Cambodians are less reserved than Americans when it comes to color. They absolutely love color — lots and lots of color. And because we anticipate that The Hope Center will be one of the busiest places in Poipet, we are having to think strategically about the type of furniture we select because it will have to stand up to lots of traffic.

Art Shopping
Early this morning we drove to Siem Reap located near Angkor Wat, the world heritage ancient religious site that has become an iconic symbol of the nation. Because Angkor Wat is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, nearby Siem Reap has large markets and interesting places to shop for all things Cambodian. Although the center will feature many photographs of women and children from around the world, the art and furnishings in the center will be distinctly Cambodian.

Chair Maker
Shopping for furniture is no easy task. Although there are many furniture makers in Siem Reap, there are no big furniture stores. So, you have to go from place to place in order to find the different components needed to furnish a room. For example, one guy is building shelving for the library area while another is building the front doors. We visited still other places to look for things like chairs and tables, all built by local craftsmen. We were able to find some children’s furniture imported from surrounding countries.

Girls Machine
The one thing we are keeping in mind as we go from place to place is the purpose of The Hope Center. The construction of this huge facility has already created a buzz around Poipet because it is a visible example of something that Christians are doing to demonstrate God’s love in a practical way. Steve and his staff want for the people of Cambodia to see an incarnational expression of God’s concern through their own lives and through the work that they are doing to love and care for others.

Kara Boy T-shirt
Yesterday, one of the orphans at the Imparting Smiles Children’s Center was wearing a t-shirt with a great message: “I’m pretty much one of the best people I know.” We want for the people here, many of whom suffered so much loss during the Pol Pot years, to understand that they are indeed valued and loved by God. I am so glad that Steve and his staff are able to look beyond the actualities to behold the possibilities in the lives of the Cambodian people — to envision the difference that God can make in each and every life. After all, He alone is the One who can add the vibrant colors of hope to hearts painted in the drabness of despair.


  1. Great stories Omar – thanks for keeping us updated! It seems extremely busy pulling all these threads and details together in such a limited time … may God’s blessing be on you and the whole team.

    • Thanks for your prayers, Craig. Hope to see you in Cambodia in December.

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